A snapshot of life in February 1985

Star visitor to hospital radio

A star disc jockey was in the hot seat for the opening of a new studio at Watford Hospital Radio on Saturday. Noel Edmonds, presenter of TV’s Late Late Breakfast Show, unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the £6,500 studio on the seventh floor of the new block at Shrodells Hospital. He was then interviewed on the air by Barry Hoile and told the listeners about his own early days as a young broadcaster on hospital radio. They are pictured testing the new equipment with another presenter, Howard Willis.

[February 1, 1985]

Charge of the blue cross brigade

Sales fever hit Watford High Street on Saturday with thousands of people queueing for Blue Cross Day at Clements department store. When the doors opened shortly before 8.30am the queue, brandishing a colourful array of umbrellas, stretched for almost 200 yards along the High Street. As the bargain-hunters tried to shelter from the rain handbills with a list of the sale goods were handed out like menus. Shoppers rushed into the store when the central doors were unlocked, on the lookout for Blue Cross bargains. By nine o’clock, 10,000 people had poured in.

[February 1, 1985]

Schools told of new 16-plus exam

Leaflets explaining the General Certificate of Secondary Education – the new 16-plus examination – have been sent to all secondary schools. This is the first part of an awareness campaign by the Government to explain the new examination to all those with an interest in it. It will replace the General Certificate of Education O-level, the Certificate of Secondary Education and joint 16-plus examinations. The first GCSE course will begin in September next year and the first candidates will sit the new examination in the summer of 1988.

[February 1, 1985]

Getting to grips with the age of the robot

Watford is one of 13 centres in Britain where people will be able to get to grips with robots. Two miniature robots are now installed at Watford College. They are not in the shape of little men although they work as robots should, through computer-based remote control. The move is part of a nationwide project to meet the growing demand for experts in robotics, especially among firms thinking of introducing non-human labour on their production lines.

[February 8, 1985]

Car park fee increase comes under fire

Diabolical, disgusting and steep – that is how many motorists described the 10 pence increase in Watford’s parking charges that comes into effect in April. In a snap survey conducted by the Watford Observer 70 per cent of the motorists asked criticised the increase in charges, approved this week by borough councillors. Most said a 60 pence charge was too steep especially if they were parking just for a few minutes. Some motorists said there were just not enough car parks in the town.

[February 8, 1985]

Miners’ picket

Pickets outside the Cardiff Road power station in Watford had to combat freezing weather conditions and the poor timing of tanker drivers. The pickets – led by striking Notts miners Joe Mohammed, Pat McHale, Tony Kelly and Brent Hyde – claim that more than 100 trade unionists supported the action on Tuesday. Police put the figure at between 40 and 50 – too few to merit a presence. Two tanker drivers – bringing aviation fuel to the 140 megawatt station – were turned away. A handful of pickets have maintained a vigil at the station since before Christmas when British Rail unions blacked rail deliveries. Mr McHale remained adamant that the miners would win the dispute.

[February 15, 1985]

Drivers trapped in traffic nightmare

The anger of motorists trapped in queues out of the Watford Business Park reached fever pitch this week as delays of more than an hour developed. Huge traffic queues stretched the length of Whippendell Road and Rickmansworth Road as drivers waited to reach the double roundabout scheme under construction at the estate entrance. As the only road in and out of the park, in west Watford, became clogged at 4pm, drivers left their cars to make angry phone calls to Watford Town Hall. Even the police were bombarded with calls but they could offer no way out for stranded drivers. People working in companies at the end of the estate were unable to leave their desks until after 7pm.

[February 22, 1985]

Bushey film studio is to close

What are believed to be the oldest operating film studios in the country if not Europe are closing down. The studios on the corner of Melbourne Road, Bushey, were built by the artist Sir Hubert Herkomer. The film company that has used the studios, Cygnet Ltd, is moving to new premises in High Wycombe. At the same time an even older building constructed by Herkomer on the other side of the road, the wooden barn with carved decorative work, has been sold and faces demolition to make way for flats. The building, dating from 1886 and used by Herkomer’s students as a work place, has been acquired by developers Audit and General Investment Ltd.

[February 22, 1985]

What was happening in the world in February 1985?

• The border between Gibraltar and Spain reopens for the first time since Francisco Franco closed it in 1969 (February 4)

• Madonna’s album Like a Virgin goes to number one for three weeks (February 9)

• Whitney Houston’s debut album is released (February 14)

• William K. Schroeder becomes the first artificial heart patient to leave hospital (February 19)

• Cherry Coke is introduced by Coca-Cola (February 19)

• The first episode of the British soap opera EastEnders is broadcast on BBC One (February 19)

• The Provisional IRA carries out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing nine officers (February 28)